As fall sports come to an end this month, Albion athletes must cope with the blank spaces in their schedules from the absence of practices and games. This lack of activity can be especially devastating because, for many, it marks the end of their athletic career.
As a graduating athlete myself, I thought it would be relevant to ask my fellow Britons, class of 2016, what they will miss most about their sport. I was curious to get other opinions on how it feels to be graduating from nearly a lifetime of team bonding and how they plan to cope with the “silence” of retirement from athletics.
According to an NCAA study, less than two percent of athletes will continue with on with a professional sports career. That leaves most of us seniors at the end of an era of the sport we’ve participated in all of our lives.
Erin Snapp, graduate trainee of counseling at Albion College Counseling Services, is working with athletes this semester and gave some insight about the transition graduating athletes must undergo during this difficult time in their lives.
“It’s a big transition because it’s an identity,” said Snapp. “It’s a lot about recognizing where you want your future to go and what you value most about athletics. Recognize what you value the most about it and who you are as a person because that is something a lot of people don’t differentiate between: who you are and who you are as that athlete.”
Snapp also emphasized the importance of keeping an active lifestyle and trying new things to cope with the absence of organized athletics.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” said basketball player Jordan Herron, Lansing senior. “I know it has to come to an end, however, I don’t want it to. The good times I’ve had with my team and the experience I’ve had as an Albion basketball player are [memories] I’ll carry for the rest of my life.”
Many students, like Okemos senior Halle Thom, said they also plan on staying involved with athletics after graduation. Thom shared her future plans with volleyball.
“I plan on trying to coach at some point in the future,” said Thom. “I would love to stay involved in the sport and continue to play in rec. leagues.”
Snapp also recommended both taking athletics to the league level or combining athletics with future career goals.
“Athletics can be combined with all careers: marketing, coaching, medicine…” said Snapp. “That’s what I’m doing with psychology.” Snapp, a former collegiate athlete, recognized the feelings that come with ending your sport and the courage it takes to move past it.
Courage. All athletes have felt this in one way or another. I personally cannot believe I crossed my last cross country finish line just a few weeks ago. Having the courage, strength and determination to be a student athlete throughout my four years at Albion has taught me insurmountable lessons about what it means to be a team player, to work hard and to stay determined and motivated in everything I do.
Like many other athletes I interviewed, I will miss my team the most: the laughter, the nerves, the support and the memories. The people at this college have shaped me into the individual I am today and inspired me to be even better with whatever life brings next.
Video by Alex Carey
Photo courtesy of Muddy Spikes Photography